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21 CES Open Forum Series

The Beginnings of Historical Consciousness: Historical Atlases in the Eighteenth Century

Aug 20, 2014 Manuel Schramm


Historical atlases came into being in the eighteenth century. This article discusses the view of history in these early works, and especially their representation of non-European history. In contrast to historical atlases of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they did not consist primarily of maps that portrayed changing territorial boundaries, but used a variety of different media to give a much more varied picture of history. The traditional Christian view of universal history was reassessed, but the break with tradition did not yet result in a new orthodoxy. Therefore, the representation of non-European history varied: Some authors stuck to a basically unchanged Eurocentric view, others put more emphasis on the history of Asian empires, but African and American history were mostly neglected.